Many different emotions can come up when it’s time to look for a new job. Maybe you’ve left a company after a long period of service and are wary about making a big change; or perhaps you’ve been let go and are feeling fearful about the next stage of your career. While your résumé, cover letter and interview skills might be up-to-date, there’s another very important factor which may determine how quickly you are able to secure interviews or a job: your mindset.
Looking for a job is a job in itself; you need to be organized, you need to prioritize, and you need to take every application seriously. There’s no such thing as a casual job search; sending out ill-considered or poorly constructed applications is a recipe for failure and becomes a self-perpetuating cycle leading to low self-esteem and extended periods of unemployment.
Here are a series of tips to help you get in the right frame of mind for your job search:
- Talk to someone. If you are feeling depressed about your last job or how your last job ended, do yourself and your family a favor and talk to a therapist, a priest/pastor/rabbi, etc.. Sorting out your unresolved career-related feelings is an essential first step in any job search.
- Get organized. Create a file system (analog or digital) where you keep your various résumé versions, cover letters, thank you letters, past career counseling notes etc. You’ll need to be organized for an effective job search so you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
- Get career counseling. If you haven’t done this before or if you have any doubts about your career direction, invest a couple hundred dollars (minimum) in seeing a professional career counselor. Career counseling will help you to further streamline your job search process by identifying your most likely future roles and how to approach them from an application perspective.
- Shore up your network. Whether on LinkedIn or by rolodex, reach out to folks whom you respect, those who are in industries you are likely to pursue, and especially people who might be able to refer you to roles you want.
- Only apply to jobs you really want and which you believe you would be very good at. It isn’t worth your time (nor the employer’s) to haphazardly send out applications, no matter how easy that may be in the digital age. Spend more time on fewer applications; you only need one full-time job
- Customize your résumé and cover letter every time you apply to a job. Your documents should reflect the specific requirements (and keywords) of each particular job.
- Follow all of the instructions. Some job applications ask for very specific things, like a portfolio, an essay, or even the answer to a specific question within the job posting.
- Follow-up! Your job is just beginning after you’ve sent out your application materials. You still need to send a thank you note, and follow-up with the employer if you haven’t heard back from them within two weeks. Be ready to sell yourself if you happen to get someone on the phone or on email (if the situation is appropriate).
- Settle in. Landing a new job is hard work and it takes time. The process is sometimes tedious (particularly with antiquated job application sites), and sometimes nerve-wracking, but it will pay off
Stay positive You will get a job. Later on, you’ll leave that job and get yet another one. Focus on the good things in your life and try to visualize how great it will feel to get a job offer (yep, it’s going to happen!).